Kara Fili: Moved by Invisibles
Choreographer/dancer: Kara Fili
This spring and summer the Lamont Gallery featured the Being & Feeling (Alone, Together) exhibition which explored embodiment, emotion, and being: how we make our way through the world, full of feeling, as solitary individuals and together with others.
In an effort to collaborate with artists in other disciplines, we reached out to local dancers and choreographers and asked them to create a piece in response to the themes of the exhibition and to the general state of things in the world. You can view the complete collection of dance videos on our Vimeo page.
Q: What a beautiful piece of movement and writing. Did you choreograph and write simultaneously, or did the words come first and then the movement, or vice versa?
A: The process had a cyclical nature. Since quarantine began, I have found comfort and meaning in journaling. When asked to submit a movement video, I was really struck by how much the title of this exhibition related to our present moment and felt compelled to create from there. The prompts of performing a duet alone and dancing stillness were also interesting to me. I revisited my journal and was at first going to submit a video of movement in nature (so not me dancing at all) overlaid with my voice saying excerpts from my journal that were standing out to me such as “so many opposites,” wanting to “yield to the current and let myself be carried by the present moment,” and feeling like there was “a hovering cloud, misty and nebulous, never quite sure what form it is in” that was occupying my headspace constantly.
Then we had an insanely windy day. I wanted to play with the wind, thinking of it as my partner. The improvised movement that came out was informed by the circumstances of the moment and my journal entries, and all of this then informed the writing, which I wrote without looking at the video. I love the “happy accidents” that come out of chance layering!
Q: The wind and the trees seemed to catch and call to you – as if your movement needed theirs in order to be complete and whole – are you exploring the idea of surrender and its many manifestations?
A: That is a beautiful interpretation. As I was dancing, I was trying to be really aware of outside and inside forces. I was thinking a lot about allowing myself to “yield to the current” of external forces that I have no control over while still maintaining my own ground, my own strength, which is pretty contradictory, but this ebb and flow of energy, emotion, strength, etc. is the reality we navigate every day, I think. There is something liberating about acceptance of circumstance and something about that that is also very unnerving to me.
Q: During these Covid-19 days it can be a challenge not to filter and process information through this isolating lens. We each carry deep, personal experiences as we navigate the unknown and journey through these days. Is Moved By Invisibles a personal reflection or a collective observation of community at this time in our world.
A: This was a personal reflection based on my own experiences, however I think there are some universalities that could speak to any person who has allowed themselves to go to an introspective place these past few months.
Q: There is a series of questions you pose in your bio on your website; how do we learn, what makes us feel and think, how can we be better to ourselves, each other and our planet. Are these re-occurring themes you regularly explore in your work? Do you address these in Moved By Invisibles?
A: These are questions that are ever-present in my life, whether I’m in the midst of making, teaching or just plain living. I wouldn’t call them themes in my work, but they do guide me through all kinds of processes.
Q: I noticed on your website you highlighted an upcoming piece of work, It Goes Like This ….. Stories of Movement (postponed due to Covid-19), can you share with us some of the highlights of this project?
A: IGLT in its original form was a live, multi-modal storytelling event. Featuring artist/storytellers Bethany Van Delf, J. Michael Winward, Joan Green, Tashwn Taylor, Corey Laitman and Ashley Rose Salomon, these artist/storytellers of various mediums and life experiences were to share a personal story surrounding the theme of “movement.” Comedy, performance painting, music, dance, video, poetry… I was really excited to present this unique show, and then Covid 19 hit and it had to be indefinitely postponed. Depending on the state of the world, I hope to produce it as a virtual event or live event with live streaming within the next 6 months.
Q: What critical role do you believe the arts will adopt in the coming days?
A: I think a lot of people are starving for connection with others and for making sense of and changing the social and public health crises we’re facing. The arts have the unique capability to reach people. And I mean really reach them at a point of true comprehension, expression and transformation. The arts take us out of our “everyday” and help us to see the world anew, which is why they must be a central component of our recovery process. They arts stimulate hope, growth, understanding, critical thinking and community building, and we need these things more than ever.
Connecting with people ages 3 – 100+ through movement and the arts has been the basis of Kara’s work since 2004. Believing that the arts are empowering agents of change, discovery and wellness, she enjoys teaching and performing in such public and private spaces as schools, senior living places, parks, streets, community centers and theaters. Her independent choreography is often marked by emotionality, humor and storytelling, and it is informed by her study of West African and African diasporic dance, modern dance and improvisation. She is also a member of Benkadi Drum & Dance and Peter DiMuro/Public Displays of Motion. www.karafili.com
Interview Conducted by Aimee Towey-Landry
Aimee Towey-Landry joined the Lamont Gallery in the winter of 2018 as the interim Gallery Manager and in 2019 she became a gallery attendant. She has over six years of experience in arts administration from her positions as Registrar and Exhibitions Coordinator at the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo, Florida and Special Projects Coordinator at the Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa, Florida. She is currently working with a team of professionals to build a non-profit that serves the homeless and the housing vulnerable populations of greater Concord. She also volunteers at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.